|GolfWRX Top Rated|
Ping iBlade irons offer the compact looks, soft feel and precise workability blade players demand, as well as a little forgiveness they'll will appreciate when they don't strike a shot perfectly.
5 out of 5
- Irons, Price: 3-PW ($162.50 steel, $177.50 graphite)
- Stock Steel Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold (S300, X100), Project X (5.0, 6.0), Nippon Modus 105 (Stiff, X-Stiff), True Temper XP 95 (R, S)
- Stock Graphite Shaft: Ping CFS (65G Soft R, 70G Regular, 80G Stiff)
- Stock Grip: Golf Pride New Decade Multi-Compound (Black/White)
- In-Stores: TBD, Available for Pre-Order
Since you’re reading this review, there’s a good chance you’re a golfer who doesn’t rely on the added distance or forgiveness of today’s hot-faced irons; it’s your skill that’s responsible for great iron shots, not the technology in your clubs.
To play your best, you need to be able to feel the difference between a perfect shot and a slight mishit so you can correct the issue. When you want to hit a two-yard draw, you need to know your irons will do just that, provided you make the proper swing. You require the most precise tools, so you rely on a subset of irons termed “blades” for ultimate control.
Ping’s new iBlades fit the broadest definition of blade irons; they have the narrow soles, thin top lines, short blade lengths, minimal offset, maximum workability, excellent feedback and soft feel blade players want. They aren’t forged like most blades or blade-like irons, though, instead opting for a multi-material, cast chassis that Ping uses to boost forgiveness and distance. Think of them as “intelligent blades;” they’re a much smarter choice for blade players who don’t compete for a living, and even some who do.
Ping has been attacking the classic definition of blade irons since 2004 when it released its first S-Series iron, the S59. The S58, S57, S56 and S55 irons followed, with the new iBlades being the most aggressive assault on the blade category to date.
The iBlades offer more distance and more forgiveness than their predecessors, Ping’s S55 irons, as well as more refined look and feel that makes them more “blade-like” than they’ve ever been. It’s unlikely that the iBlades will make a 15-handicap golfer a single-digit, but they can make a big difference in a blade-player’s game. Millimeter for millimeter, so to speak, they’re probably the most forgiving blade irons on the market.
Like Ping’s Glide wedges, the iBlades are cast from 431 stainless steel, which has two benefits: the metal feels softer at impact, and it has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than the 17-4 stainless steel used to make the S55’s, saving about 4 grams of weight from the design. Ping was able to repeat the weight-saving process in a few different areas: the club faces are thinner, the cavities have been hollowed out more, and each iron’s Custom Tuning Port (CTP) was extended closer to the sole.
The gram-by-gram changes added up to Ping being able to use an average of 23 grams of tungsten per iBlade iron head (the S55 irons used an average of 14 grams per head), but golfers won’t know the tungsten is there unless someone tells them. More on that later.
As in previous models, the tungsten weights were placed in the low-toe area of the irons to help improve each iron’s moment of inertia, a measure of forgiveness. According to Ping, the average MOI boost was 4.5 percent when measuring across the club face (heel to toe), and 4 percent when measuring from top to bottom when compared to the S55 irons. That might not sound like a lot, but it is comparatively. When the S55 irons were released in late 2013, the MOI increase over Ping’s previous model, the S56, was just 0.5 percent.
That brings us to the first ball our testers hit with the iBlade irons; “Wow, these are soft.”
The iBlades place 1.6 times more elastomer directly behind the impact area of the club face, leading to an impressively soft feel when golfers flush a shot. Ping’s designers call the experience “activating the elastomer.” Mishit a shot slightly, though, and the feel isn’t as pleasing, and that’s by design. The good thing about those slight mishits is our testers reported that they flew pretty much like their perfect shots. Remember, we’re talking about slight mishits, not complete impact disasters. Those will be punished appropriately. These are blades, after all.
Our testers also commented on how much distance they were seeing from the iBlade 3- and 4-irons. Those currently using Ping irons will want to know that the company strengthened the stock loft of the 3 iron (by 1 degree to 20 degrees) and 4 iron (by 0.5 degrees to 23.5), while actually weakening the lofts of the 7-9 irons by 1 degree. The pitching wedge remains 46 degrees.
The stock lengths of each of the irons has also been extended by 0.25 inches with the exception of the pitching wedge, which remains 35.5 inches. With the changes, Ping is now is pretty much in line with industry standards.
We say all that to say, yes, slightly longer shafts and stronger lofts help the distance equation in the long irons, but we don’t think the performance boost is only due to a spec change. The long irons are faster and more forgiving, and that will make it easier for golfers to gap their long irons.
Our testers also appreciated the refined sole grinds of the iBlades, which have the same sole widths, but more bounce the the S55 irons. It’s a minor change of only a few degrees, but the testers told us the iBlades don’t want to stick in the turf — even in soft conditions.
There are several other small changes golfers may or may not notice about the iBlades when compared to the S55’s: some that help with performance, and some that contribute to the more streamlined look of the irons.
For one, the grooves don’t extend as far toward the toe of the club face, a visual trick that makes the irons appear smaller than they are. Traditionalists will love that, as well as the longer hosels of the short irons, which help the short irons blend more seamlessly with the look of a golfer’s wedges, and also boost MOI. In fact, according to Ping, the MOI of the short irons (6-PW) is actually the same as Ping’s larger i irons.
Golfers might also notice that the iBlades have straighter leading edges and longer ferrules, which gives them a more classic look. Ping even removed the graphics on the back of the irons that in the past highlighted their tungsten weight. That’s because for most blade buyers, performance is about what’s not visible.
With the iBlades, tiny mishits are going to fly almost exactly like perfect shots, so hold your finish when you’re fractionally off. Unless you tell them, your playing partners will never know you didn’t flush the shot.
- See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the iBlades in our forum
- Our review of Ping’s i irons
- 4 things to know about Ping’s Glide wedges
- Our review of Ping’s S55 irons